Dear Mr. President,
I don't know Omar Khadr. I don't know his crimes, his history or the circumstances surrounding his arrest and detention. I don't have any opinion about his guilt or innocence. I know one thing, only one thing for sure, about Omar Khadr; on the day of his arrest by US soldiers 8 years ago, he was 15 years old. I don't need to know anything else, Mr. President. I don't need to know who he allegedly killed or how he confessed to the crime of participating in the losing side of an ugly war. I don't need to know these things because it is simply inexcusable for us to treat a child this way. A child who was wounded and nearly dead when we arrested him and tortured him and convinced him that he would suffer even worse if he did not confess.
I've been 15. We've all been 15. And I'm not claiming that going to war or throwing grenades is just some adolescent stage that Khadr would have outgrown, but, by now, he has certainly lost his best chance at growing up into something better. There are legal and political arguments to be made about the rules of war and what is acceptable conduct, but we're talking about a child, who was surrounded by political upheaval, facing an invading army (right or wrong, it is what we are,) with better weapons and better armor and better training, and who, allegedly, threw a grenade; there is a higher moral argument to be made against calling that a "war crime." He should have spent the last eight years in school, not in prison. While his actions have consequences that must be acknowledged, this country has a moral obligation to demonstrate, to the world, the way a responsible superpower conducts itself. I don't believe for a second that you need to be told this, sir, but a responsible superpower does not behave this way toward children. There is simply no crime this boy could have committed to warrant the treatment he has received at American hands. This is why people hate us. It makes us less safe, it generates more anti-American sentiment, and it's just wrong.
You promised to close Guantanamo Bay, and that has not happened. We have had no explanation for this failure, no apology for the broken promise, and no indication that it will be fulfilled in the future. The people who voted for you are entitled to these answers, Mr. President, and if you cannot give them, you can at least ensure that Omar Khadr's treatment and trial are fair, just, and conducted with due consideration of his age at the time of his arrest. It is a small mercy that should be given, not out of symbolism or political expediency, but because, in this instance, we have behaved appallingly, and there will be no rectifying it until we say so.